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The Two Captains


September 9, 2000 Kranlendijk, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles 12d09.411 N; 68d16.829W

Yes, indeed: the land of restaurants, stores, marinas, and credit cards. After one delightful night in the all-but deserted Aves Sotavento, (we had a successful rendezvous w/ Soggy Paws), we sailed west to Bonaire, one of the premier dive resort destinations in the world, in light conditions with the whisker pole in place. After a bracing motorsail up the west coast, we pulled into a slip in Harbour Village Marina, a very upscale facility, just about thirty hours before Tiffany and Tyson were due to fly in. Sounds like all was well, right?

Wrong. The next morning, snug in our slip, Don went to start the engine for a little refrigeration boost, and "Clunk," the starter would not budge. Since we'd motored into the slip 18 hours before, and had never had a water problem in 10 years, Don spent an hour or so changing out the starter, feeling quite smug that he had a new one in reserve. Once installed, he gave it a crank, and what do you know....sea water squirted at him out the breather on top of the engine! Damned if the engine wasn't full to the brim! Not good!

It's a running joke in the cruising biz, since the advent of watermakers, that they just need to come up with a way to make diesel from seawater. However, that day is not yet here. Don spent the day before his baby girl's arrival not making the boat pretty like he planned, but making a huge mess in the engine room getting the water out of the cylinders ASAP and finding the cause, which proved to be a stuck siphon break.

With the engine well lubed up with WD40, we were able to relax enough to camouflage the mess, make up the forepeak berth, and attend the weekly Tuesday night cruiser's happy hour at Karel's bar where all the males had their two cents to throw into Don's pot (after which, we hear, they all ran home to check their own siphon breaks!) From there we struggled to stay conscious until 1am when Tiffer's flight was due to land. Needless to say, our reserved cab didn't show up, so with the way things were going, we really expected some awful snafu at the airport. However, Tiffany and Tyson were landed, cleared, and just wondering what they were going to do (since she'd forgotten to bring the name of the marina), when Don finally rode in.

Tiffer has been a great sport during the engine room struggles that have dominated her first days of vacation. Don got the engine running, but then after about 20 minutes of running, we suddenly developed a blow-by suggesting a stuck or damaged valve, or worse a piston problem. Don did his best under the valve cover, but finally cried "UNCLE" and called for a mechanic... who, of course, would not be available until Monday next! We spent more time than we liked imagining the worst, picturing ourselves doing an engine rebuild in one of the priciest ports in the Caribe, before we were rescued by a fellow cruiser, Jim of Impetuous III, and a can of Marvel's Mystery Oil! Jim modestly insists that although he is a mechanic by training, he is not a diesel mechanic, but his MMO cure, sprayed into the intake as the engine was running, proved to be just the ticket. Although he and Don reset the valves just to be thorough, they concluded in the end that the blow-by was caused simply a sticky piece of gunk. Once again the TII escapes disaster!

And so this story ends pretty happily with the engine purring well enough that we were able to escape the marina yesterday, for, though it was upscale, it was breezeless and buggy! We moved out to one of the moorings that line the picturesque Kralendijk waterfront (there is no anchoring in Bonaire), and Don celebrated his relief by inviting all cruisers to assemble for a happy-hour noodle party. There were old faces and new ones, adding up to thirteen floaters, fourteen if your count Tyson who had his own raft!

It has not been all maintenance (although there is more yet to come!) We've squeezed in some snorkeling, some walks, runs and work-outs at the spa, shopping with the "girls", plus Tiffany has decided finally to get certified to dive, so she has textbook in hand. After all, we are in one of the premier scuba diving destinations of the world (Hurricane Lenny damage nowithstanding) and a coral drop-off awaits no further than our own stern swim ladder.

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Published at Burlington, VT